Infants can start out their lives sleeping up to 20 hours a day, and as they grow older, their need for sleep changes with them, sometimes in unexpected ways. She spends quite a bit of time napping, and a good nap can mean the difference between a happy, cheerful baby and a fretful, fussy one. This means that, for many parents, the nap can become less of a routine landmark in Baby‘s day and more of an art form. And even if you and Baby already have your system down, there are always new things to try in search of the perfect nap.
- Get into a nap routine Baby can count on. If feeding, napping and bedtime happen at around the same time every day, and if the naptime and bedtime preparation routines stay consistent, she will be more likely to fall asleep easily and without fussing, and to get the amount of sleep she needs.
- Put Baby down for a nap sometimes before she is asleep. As Baby gets older, it will help her learn how to fall asleep on her own if you put her down into her crib, cot or bassinet for a nap when she is still sleepy but awake.
- Be flexible! Baby is changing so much at this point in her life, so it only makes sense that what she needs from her sleep schedule will change as well. If Baby is starting to have trouble sleeping at night, for example, it may be a sign that her napping schedule needs to be adjusted, either by eliminating a nap, or by making napping happen earlier in the day. Routines are still important, so if you do need to make this kind of adjustment, try changing it slowly, in ten-or-fifteen-minute-a-day increments over the course of several days.
- Nap on an unsafe surface. Naps should follow the same rules as nighttime sleep – including placing Baby in a safe sleeping surface where there is nothing for her to get tangled in, or which would pose a suffocation risk, like pillows, blankets, soft toys, or a nap-buddy. While there are definitely benefits to sleeping at the same time as Baby, and even in the same room, sleeping in the same bed can be dangerous, and the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against it.
- Move straight from feeding to sleeping. Baby is naturally sleepy after feeding, so it might feel like the perfect time for a nap, but if Baby regularly moves straight from eating into sleep, she may have a harder time falling asleep when she transitions into a more regular eating and sleeping schedule as she gets older.
- Mary L. Gavin. “Sleep.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, December 2016. Retrieved October 25 2017. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleepnewborn.html.
- “The Best Time For Your Baby’s Morning Nap.” sleep.org. National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved October 25 2017. https://sleep.org/articles/best-time-for-your-babys-morning-nap/.